Everyone needs to stay hydrated. During the holiday season when it is extra cold out and we are all extra busy, it is even more important to stay well hydrated.
Much like us, our live Christmas trees also need to stay well hydrated. In the ground a tree has its roots to gather moisture from the earth. Once they’re cut down, and transferred into our homes, it’s up to us to provide them with the moisture they need.
Many people don’t realize that they aren’t watering their trees enough or even that they are not doing it correctly.
Let’s talk about keeping your tree healthy and adequately watered with some tree caretaking tips.
Having a live Christmas tree
The first thing to consider about having a live tree is that, unlike the artificial alternative, these trees do not last forever. They will eventually die. Most live trees will only live for a few weeks, averaging at no more than 5 weeks.
You can extend their life span with good care, keeping them away from heat and most of all, keeping them well hydrated.
One of the first steps to having a healthy tree is to choose the correct tree. You want to look for green tree that has strong needles and pliable branches. If the tree is already dry it won’t last long no matter how much you hydrate it.
The best, and most commonly used, way to test if your tree is healthy enough to survive the holiday season is to run a branch through your hand. As you do, see if any needles fall off or if the branch seems brittle.
Wrinkled bark or browning needles are also a good sign that the tree won’t last long.
Choosing a healthy tree from the start will save you some heartache in the long run.
Keeping a healthy tree
Before we jump straight into watering your tree you must first understand how to make a fresh cut. When you purchase your tree a resin will likely have grown over the stump where it was cut.
This resin will prevent the trunk from soaking up water and staying hydrated. So, you should remove a section of the tree, around a half-inch thick, sliced like a disk from the base. Don’t cut a V-shape or drill a hole, just simply slice away half an inch of the base of the trunk.
This will allow your tree to take a drink. Immediately place it into a bucket of water. The bucket of water should be able to hold about a gallon, or one quart of water per inch of stem diameter. This will ensure that your tree is receiving enough hydration. So if your trees stem is 5 inches in diameter you will need 5 quarts or gallons of water.
You should water your tree daily, especially around the first week, as it will drink the most.
Also, remember to keep your tree away from heat, fireplaces, and radiators. If your house is warm and dry it’s worth considering a humidifier. Dry and warm conditions can dehydrate your tree out a lot faster and undo all your hard work.
Watering your tree
Treat your tree as an additional member of the family. When you get up to grab your morning coffee, grab your tree their morning water as well. Water your tree daily, especially during its first 5-10 days. During this time they drink the most water.
A standard tree, sized with a trunk diameter of around five inches will need around five quarts of water in its stand each day. Trees know their limits, so you can add more water if you need to be away from the tree for a few days.
Ensure that the trunk of your tree is always submerged in the water, if the tree sits high in the stand it may be floating above the water level and not be getting enough hydration. Make sure that it is low enough to be fully submerged as the water level goes down.
Many people may put sugar, corn starch, or syrups into the water. This is not recommended. While flowers often need additives or plant food, trees do not. Trees require only clean water, so save the additives for a bouquet.
Keep an eye out for dryness
It doesn’t matter if the water in the stand is warm or cool. However, the air that surrounds your tree is another thing. The heat will cause premature drying. Not only that, but if the air is very dry, it may cause evaporation. This will cause your trees water levels to decrease much faster.
You can monitor your tree for dryness by keeping a sharp eye out for any needle shedding. Also check the branches every few days to see if they feel dry or brittle. The worst sign you will notice is brown or browning needles. It’s not too late, but the tree needs serious hydration. If your tree becomes too dry it can become a fire hazard. Know when it’s time to move the tree out of the house.
Watering your tree correctly and keeping it in the right conditions can help it last anywhere between four or five weeks while still looking nice and healthy. However, we would still wait until a week after thanksgiving before going tree shopping… Just to be safe.